On Jan. 1, my father died from complications of COVID-19 at the Minneapolis VA hospital. While it was very difficult for our family to see him struggle, we were so thrilled that he was in the caring and capable hands of the staff at the Minneapolis VA. I hope the residents of the Twin Cities and surrounding area know that this hospital and its nurses, doctors and other staff are the absolute best in the business. A heartfelt thank you to Michaela, Susan, Denise, Kelly and all the rest of you who took care of our Pops during his final days. Your kindness and professionalism will not be forgotten.

Greg Kramasz, Lewiston, Idaho


The Variety section article "Don't let your mask fog up your glasses" (Jan. 3) focused on tips to prevent fogging of glasses such as using anti-fog spray or using soap and water on your lenses. COVID is airborne and well-fitting protective masks are one of the most effective ways to reduce its spread. Fogged-up glasses are a sign that masks are not fitting well and so are not protecting well. Rather than suggest ways to reduce fog on your glasses, I think readers would benefit from guidance on how to pick a vetted mask such as an N95, KN95 or KF94 that will fit well and protect them and others from spreading and getting COVID.

Marilyn Levi-Baumgarten, St. Louis Park

The writer is a volunteer, Project N95.


Not learning the obvious lessons

The new year allows us to reflect upon the life lessons that the COVID experience confronted us with. One of the existential choices presented was the notion of self-interest vs. community benefit. So, the life lesson that many of us knew, but were reminded of by COVID, was that for many people, selfishness comes easy. The community asked us to get vaccinated. Vaccines were shown to be safe and effective. For some, their egos wouldn't accept this relatively small request from the community for the greater benefit. For some, this was as if the community was asking them to donate a kidney.

The starting quarterback of the Vikings has had an opportunity to learn this life lesson from COVID. Maybe — just maybe — his obstinacy regarding vaccination cost his teammates the opportunity to play in a championship game. Maybe, looking back on his self-centered position on vaccines, he can recognize that the COVID experience confronted him with the opportunity to be a "team player" — both literally and figuratively. Maybe he now recognizes how his actions were dismissive of the goals of his teammates. Maybe he now recognizes that his team is a metaphor for community. Maybe he has had an epiphany. Maybe.

Richard Masur, Minneapolis


I have been a Vikings fan since the team began and have experienced many ups and downs over the years. However, this current incarnation of the Vikings leaves me more frustrated than usual. We have been told over several years now that certain changes will help us turn the corner.

  • If we get a different coach. That didn't seem to be the solution.
  • If we get a new stadium. That didn't seem to be the solution.
  • If we get rid of older stars and replace them with younger players. That didn't seem to be the solution.
  • If we get a new quarterback. That didn't seem to be the solution.

And then we as fans are to continue to support a team that does not require its players and support staff to get vaccinated, so our supporting energies and resources are spent on a depleted team over many weeks.

I would much rather have a Vikings team to support in the future, and so the dismal record of the current coach makes his replacement seem like an obvious place to start to find real solutions. And by all means require the entire organization to get vaccinated to show they care for their fans and for the community. Be an example of a good organization again.

Bob Passi, Baxter, Minn.


Given the results of the Vikings-Packers game and the fact that the Vikings principle quarterback got COVID because he chose not to get vaccinated, can we sue Kirk Cousins?

This was a deliberate choice on his part. Had he played, the Vikings might still have lost, but the game would likely have been more exciting to watch. He let down his team, the fans and the state.

There seems to be grounds for a suit, but do we have standing? Of course: Spectators view the game from the stands.

Bob Gordon, Minneapolis


Another potential casualty: the Superior National Forest

Fifty-five years ago and fresh out of high school I worked at a summer camp on the Stony River, a stone's throw from Birch Lake and the Kawishiwi River, near the site of Twin Metals proposed copper mine. That idyllic summer on McDougal Lake was the beginning of my lifetime love for Minnesota's North Woods and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. In the following decades, Hwy. 1 from Lake Superior to Ely and the Gunflint Trail from Grand Marais to Saganaga Lake were, and remain, my roads to the wilderness. It is with this background that I offer my personal objections to Twin Metals proposal.

This proposal has ignited tremendous opposition from people like me who value Minnesota's unspoiled places, pristine waterways and the Boundary Waters. We also greatly appreciate the Star Tribune's steadfast and convincing editorials seeking to deny the permit for Twin Metals. However, amid the myriad arguments for denial, we've sidestepped another critical issue regarding this mine. Left in the shadow of our overriding concern for the Boundary Waters we've neglected the impacts that would inevitably occur to this corner of the Superior National Forest itself. We need only look to aerial images of the proposed PolyMet mine on the former taconite site miles to the south. From this elevated view an apparent bomb blew apart the North Woods. In my mind it is inconceivable for this outcome to be the future of Birch Lake and adjacent forestlands. Twin Metals would affectively industrialize the Superior National Forest, the surrounding roadways and nearby communities. From Birch Lake to the Kawishiwi to lovely Hwy. 1, bulldozers and dump trucks will transform our National Forest into ruins, a monument to vanished beauty. We know it because we've seen it all before. This unspoiled forest is far too valuable to throw to the ravages of Twin Metals.

With the federal comment period underway now till Jan. 19, this is the time to support the lakes and rivers of the Boundary Waters as well as our irreplaceable natural Superior National Forest. We must request either a 20-year moratorium on mining adjacent to the Boundary Waters or, better yet, a perpetual, extensive and secure buffer surrounding this wilderness area. In other words, "Not this mine, not this place, not ever."

Leo Keane, Whitefish, Mont.


Red, for some, is merely a nice color

Breaking news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has completed its study of driving habits in the Twin Cities and concluded that a new virus has taken hold of many drivers.

The heretofore unknown virus manifests itself as a form of color blindness that reaches across all classes. The virus appears to interfere with some drivers' ability or willingness to read and adhere to traffic signals, causing them to assume that red lights are actually green lights or at least blinking yellows. As result, these drivers assume that the obedient drones waiting in cross traffic will simply yield and allow the infected to go on with their business as they wish.

Such an outbreak was expected in places like Los Angeles or Atlanta but not in Minnesota, known historically for reasonably courteous drivers.

The CDC is certain that the outbreak cannot be blamed on COVID. Instead, it seems to be an emerging strain that might be called "DLAFOO" ("driving laws are for others only").

No vaccine is yet available, so it falls to those infected to cure themselves.

Steven M. Lukas, Minneapolis

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